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Title: The Royal Institution of Great Britain, 1840-1873
Author: Forgan, A. S.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3474 708X
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 1977
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The Royal Institution is generally thought of as an institution devoted solely to scientific research and the Popular exposition of science. In the mid-nineteenth century however it had a wider range of objectives and activities, and should be considered within the framework of the organisation of learning and culture as a whole of which science was still an integral part. In the 1840s it acted as an authority on practical science; it provided both specialised scientific education and what was then termed useful knowledge; it supported experimental scientific research; and it was a literary and philosophical society of an eighteenth-century type, devoted to the cultivation of humane learning in general. As the unity of learning disintegratedv the R. I. was forced to reassess its activities and decide which ought to be its most important function. Formal educative activities were reluctantly abandoned. Prom the early 1850s and more enthusiastically in the 1860s, scientific research was recognized to be its prime function, At the same time its management passed for the first time into the hands of scientific men and any possibility of support from outside interests warded off by a new insistence that research at the Institution must be purely disinterested and independent. Paradoxically however, its nonscientific activities received greater attention than ever before, which may be linked to changes in the Institutionts membership and to ideas of cultivated entertainment. These developments made the 1860s not only a "golden age" of success and popularity, but the decisive decade in fixing the activities and ethos of the Institution for the next hundred years.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Royal Institution ; History ; nineteenth-century learning and culture